Thursday, April 26, 2007

Showing His True Colours.

Boy, I didn't post a blog for a week and here I am about to blog about Survivor again. Sorry.

Did anyone notice what Mookie said in his little exit interview? "Wish I could be back there, making everyone's life miserable."

Once again, this made me think about how a person's true nature comes out under pressure. One of the things that makes Survivor such an interesting study of human nature. It's one thing to go out fighting in that game. To try to convince others to not vote you out. But knowing they had no chance, that one of them was going to go, it seemed so slimy to me that Alex and Mookie just wanted to cause trouble for people. To what end exactly? Just to be mean?

Although, having said that, it may benefit Alex. If he succeeded in turning anyone against Yao or Earl then his SUPER-Slimy move to vote for Mookie may help him. But going into someone's personal belongings? That was pretty low.

But it could change the game. Should be interesting to see whether or not he can pull 3 people away from that alliance. If he goes for Stacy, Boo and Dreamz, he may just pull it off... But Dreamz and Stacy hate each other and everyone seems to dislike Boo so it seems like a long shot.

I do like how they're making all these reward challenges team challenges and forming the teams randomly. Does add something to the game. Before, the winner would get to take friends along for the reward, but they'd always take people in their alliance so it was pretty predictable.

Right now I'm actually rooting for Earl. He's played smart and he's played with integrity. Letting Yao be the one to dig for that idol when he easily could have gone for it himself says a lot about Earl. Also the fact that he and Yao didn't get into a fight about who was "holding it", unlike how Mookie, Alex and Eguardo acted with their idol...

Enough reality TV rambling...

Friday, April 20, 2007


Okay. I'm still watching Survivor. The first reality TV show I ever let myself get hooked on (after stubbornly refusing to watch most of the first season).

Last night was the best episode ever. The first one where I was actually clapping and laughing during the vote at tribal council.

Why? Because the guy who no one fully trusts. The guy who seems to sway with the wind. The guy who's treated as if he were a child. The guy who seemed like a pawn in several different people's games? He changed everything. Never has their been a better liar on this game. Particularly one I was rooting for. Who wasn't lying for his own personal gain, so much, or for the pure joy in manipulation many of the past notorious liars seem to derived, but to gain the trust of others and to send a message to the people he lied to that he was not to be underestimated or patronized.

And, to me, Dreamz helped "the good guys". Hence my clapping and laughing. The expressions on everyone's faces when Edguardo's name came up more than once was priceless!

Watching that show, I'm never cheering for the ones who are so bloody arrogant about their position in the game. It's usually the strong, good looking guys and as much as it's nice to keep those guys around to look at, arrogance is the human trait I dislike most. (Another reason why the business world was uncomfortable for me. Many of the people I had to deal with were dripping in it.)

The sensitive side of me hopes the group's last minute decision to switch from Mookie to Eguardo and not tell Dreamz doesn't hurt Dreamz too much. He's already been treated badly by the so called Four Horseman. I feel badly for him. I hope Earl or Yau-Man can convince Dreamz either that they didn't have time to tell him, or that it was a test and he passed it with flying colors and they now trust him 200%.

But the not-so-sensitive side is rubbing my hands together waiting for the shit to hit the fan and wondering if that mistake, of not trusting Dreamz, will change the game all over again. Next week should be interesting.

For me, Survivor is one of the best studies in human nature on TV. They tend to cast real people. (unlike Big Brother or those dating shows like The Bachelor, where they seem to cast the women by cup-size and the men by the lowest IQ). I just wanted to slap 90% of the cast the one and only time I watched BB) And the Survivor players are all in such close proximity for so long and are thrown so many curves, forced to make big decisions, when they are emotionally and physically taxed.

As writers we know that when under pressure is when people's true nature comes out.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Intelligent choices...

I went to see The Lookout last night. And while I can't say it was the best movie I've seen this year or anything quite that strong... it did strike me once again what interesting and intelligent choices Joseph Gordon-Levitt has made in his career.

I mean, here's a kid who got famous very young and presumably made a lot of money for acting in a very silly sitcom. How easy would it have been to move from that into either another silly sitcom or into teen-exploitation movies. He's cute and looks even younger than he is, easily passing for a teenager even now. I'm sure he must have been offered tons of hollywood teen movies.
Instead? He's been doing really interesting smaller films.

(Okay, he was in 10 Things I Hate About You. But I'd argue that was, as teen movies go, a pretty smart one. I mean, doing a modern remake of Taming of the Shrew is a pretty bold idea. And that director was smart enough to cast an almost unknown at the time Heath Ledger, too.)

I first saw Gordon-Levitt, post 3rd Rock, (which, for the record, I thought was hilarious when it first came out, but quickly tired of), in a film at the 2004 Toronto International Film Festival called Mysterious Skin. It's my favourite type of film to see at the festival, but a hard kind to pick just based on the programming schedule. Maybe if I knew more about directors, etc... but I usually find these ones by luck alone. By favourite type, I mean interesting, bold, smaller films -- usually with a young, new director, and often with hollywood stars or up-and-coming young actors -- but which, in spite of its impressive cast, will never be released into the theatres, or if it is released, will be hard to find because of a very short run/small number of screens.

I picked this film totally by luck. I think I was literally at the theatre, had a few hours to kill before my next screening (or was too lazy to truck over to whatever theatre my next screening was at) and there were tickets available.

What an interesting film. His performance is still with me. Now, a small warning before you go out to rent it. Here are the "Plot Keywords" listed on for Mysterious Skin. "Gay Lead Character / Disturbing / Nose Bleed / Alien Abduction / Coming Of Age"

Interested yet? I'm re-interested and will have to see it again.

Also very interesting was Brick, made in 2005, but which I'm pretty sure I just saw last year some time. Very cool movie. The director completely transfers the film-noir genre into a high school setting. Worth it for the stylized dialogue alone.

And The Lookout, in theatres now. A slowly building suspense film with great character development and, for me anyway, tons of quiet tension.

Gordon-Levitt is either a very smart young man, or he has very smart people around him. Oh, and I just noticed on imdb that he was in A River Runs Through It when he was only 10. Huh. Must have been one of the boys as a kid? Will have to see that again. Okay. For more than just Gordon-Levitt :-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fitting In...

I've never read any of those "Finding your Bliss" books, although I probably should have eons ago. If I had, I may have made completely different choices in my life.

But then again, I can't possibly regret the choices I've made, they've led me to where I am now. So maybe it's a good thing I was such a late starter on the whole self-discovery thing.

What got me thinking about this? I went last night to an alumni event for my former employer. An employer I worked for for almost 17 years depending on when you start counting. (I was a co-op student with them during University so on my first day of employment, I was actually still 19 years old.) Last evening, sitting in a room of mostly men, with neat haircuts, wearing suits, talking about subjects in which I had little interest, it struck me how happy I am with the choices I'm making now and how unhappy I was for so many years struggling so hard to fit in, to play the part of aggressive business person, when that's about as far from my natural character as you can get.

I think my problem is that I don't like to be told I can't do something. I have a strong sense of pride and hate failure. So the idea that I wasn't going to be a success at the career I chose drove me a little insane and also drove me to keep trying to make it work when I knew in my heart, probably in my first year of University, that I'd chosen the wrong path for me.

Now, don't get me wrong. I met some of my very best friends in my years as an accountant. And many (most?) of the stereotypes for accounting and accountants simply aren't true. In professional public accounting anyway, there's an incredible amount of judgement involved, tons of variety in your day-to-day work, it's not routine or boring at all. It wasn't boredom or routine that I didn't like as many of my writer-friends assume. It was pretending to care about business in general. Pretending to get excited about closing a deal, or negotiating a contract, or finding ways to increase shareholder value. I just never cared. I saw the adrenaline rush in my colleagues' eyes and always thought there was something wrong with me for not feeling that way.

It simply never turned me on.

What turns you on? Have you found your bliss?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How many of you are there?
LogoThere are
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Found this cool thing which supposedly searches US census data to find out how many people have the same name as you.
According to the site, there are 138,726 people in the US with the first name Maureen. 99.9% of whom are female. Go figure.

Surprisingly (to me) only 39,205 people have the last name McGowan. I thought it was a more common name than that. And only 18 with the combination. Wow. I feel pretty unique.

Oddly, at my old job there was another Maureen McGowan. I know this because of Lotus Notes... but she was in London, England.

How common is your name?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Serious or happy?

OK. So down to two photos.

Any thoughts out there? Need to e-mail to RWA tomorrow.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

New appreciation for ANTM chicks

Okay, my embarrassing love for ANTM has already been exposed in a blog on DWT last year.

Sure, the silly childish behaviour of the girls is grating, but what I like is watching the photo shoots and seeing the resulting pictures.

So, you'd think after watching a few seasons of the show. (and the first season of Canada's Next Top Model) that I'd have learned a thing or two. That I'd be able to make an expression in front of a camera that wouldn't make me look like I was insane or half asleep or on drugs.

But no.

I had a photo shoot this am to get a snap I can send in to RWA for this Golden Heart thing and wow. The photographer was great. And she probably took 40 or 50 pictures. So you'd expect half would be okay? A third? That my biggest problem would be picking my favorite? No. There were really only two, maybe 3 of the whole bunch which weren't hideous.

It's not like I've ever had an model aspirations, but seriously, I thought I could smile at a camera and not look like a moron. Who knew?

Monday, April 02, 2007


Got thinking about how expectations can affect someone's impression...

I was talking to some writer friends yesterday about how sometimes a book getting tons of "buzz" can generate a lot of negative backlash out there in blogland and on Amazon. "I heard this book was supposed to be really great. It wasn't that great."

And last night, holed up with a cold in a hotel room in Boston, I watched a couple of movies and had the same thoughts. The two movies were Because I Said So and Catch and Release.

I may be wrong here... but it seems to me that "Because" got more publicity/buzz than "Catch". I do remember seeing maybe one ad on TV for "Catch", but I don't think it got nearly as much hype or as many trailer spots in theatres.

Which did I like? Catch and Release. Don't know how much my super low expectations afftected me (or my strange infatuation with Timothy Olyphant) but I thought it was a really good film. Might be another example of those movies where they try to make it look like a comedy in the trailers/ads (focussing on Kevin Smith being a goof) when really it's very sad (but with a happy ending) movie about grief. And not just her grief. The men, too. Even Kevin Smith has a pretty dramatic and sad story line.

Very nice little movie. If you haven't seen it, check it out. (Whereas "Because" was just silly. It tried way too hard to be funny and just came off dumb to me and, well, desperate.)
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